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Jet Blue Greens Up JFK Airport with Organic Potato Farm

Jan Lee headshotWords by Jan Lee
Leadership & Transparency
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It's likely the last thing that airline developers thought of when they mapped out the runways. But thanks to an inspired airline, the John F. Kennedy International Airport now comes complete with its own organic potato garden.

It's kind a reverse psychology to the advent of flying: Most airports grew up around farms and vast green spaces. But these days, those fertile green spots on the horizon are at a premium, particularly when they fill a unique next-door need, like, say, providing potatoes and herbs for an airport's restaurants and passengers.

And if Jet Blue Airways, the airline that came up with this idea, is successful, there will be plenty of potatoes to go around. Some 2,400 acres of rich, blue potatoes and herbs.

According to the airline's website, it's joined forces with the Terra chips brand to create this little spot of heaven, and has already figured out how to ensure the produce will be used efficiently.

"The blue potatoes produced are taken to Terra's nearby factory where they are processed into blue potato chips for research of new flavors and ideas. All other produce is either used by businesses within Terminal 5 or donated to local New York communities through GrowNYC." Food scraps from the airport's restaurants will be composted and used in the soil, thereby reducing the local footprint even further.

The airline says the garden is part of its master plan to improve its environmental impact, an endeavor that now includes a post-security terrace that's open to the public and their four-legged companions, natural lighting, improved natural ventilation, and cool-roof improvements to spruce up the ambiance of the 67-year-old airport.

"Though most of our greenhouse gas emissions and energy use is related to jet fuel and planes, we operate too many buildings to ignore their environmental impact," says the airline.

The Smithsonian points out that Jet Blue's brainstorm is also part of a growing trend to incorporate green spaces into commercial areas that, at one time, seemed like unlikely candidates for gardens. Tokyo train stations now rent out spots for would-be gardeners. In 2010, the city of Houston became inspired by the idea of creating a sustainable green space and made room on an adjacent city property. Developer Asakura Robinson and Urban Harvest worked together to create the public food garden, which now serves as a meeting place for a farmer's market and community events.

But undoubtedly, Jet Blue's runway acoutrement takes the cake (or should we say the potato) when it comes to ingenuity. Let's hope it becomes a scenic trend.

Images courtesy of Jet Blue Airways, used with permission

Jan Lee headshotJan Lee

Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.

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